New York City's Van Alen Institute (VAI) is turning 120 next year, and to celebrate, the institute is taking its message of inspired architecture and urbanism to the street. The storefront space on West 22nd Street has been home to the institute's popular LOT-EK–designed bookstore and event space, organized around a stack of bleachers made from reclaimed wooden doors painted highlighter yellow. VAI's new director, David van der Leer, is tackling the redesign and expansion of the sidewalk space to maximize the organization's public visibility as it evolves its mission into the 21st century. Three finalists—Collective-LOK, EFGH Architectural Design Studio, and Of Possible Architectures (OPA)—were selected from over 120 respondents to VAI's "Ground/Work" competition earlier this year, and now their schemes have been revealed. EFGH Architectural Design Studio Hayley Eber, Frank Gesualdi, Spencer Lapp, Pat Ruggiero, and Ani Ivanova. Project statement from the Van Alen:
A microcosm of the space of the city, the new Van Alen Institute is imagined as a container for dynamic life. As an institution committed to the expansion of the definition of “public architecture” and the processes that shape the public realm, the VAI needs a home that embodies that ambition. Recognizing the dramatic proportions of the existing site as an opportunity, the proposed new Ground/ Work space turns a long skinny ground floor volume into a virtue: it maximizes the street level space, creating a single room - a large “grand hall” - that strives to reach the scale of the street, and extend the life of 22nd Street into the heart of the Institute. Through the easy manipulation of three mobile components in the space, The Media Wedge, The Bleacher and the Hinge Table, the VAI can be radically transformed by a few employees in a short amount of time. When one asks “What is the new space of the Van Alen Institute; A Workspace, Exhibition space, Lecture Hall, Book/ Media Outlet, Public Forum, Conference space, Performance Space or Party space?” The only suitable answer is All of the Above.View more information on the proposal at the Van Alen website. Collective-LOK Jon Lott, William O’Brien Jr., and Michael Kubo Project statement from the Van Alen:
The new institutional home of the Van Alen has to be many things at once. The brief requires curatorial flexibility for a breadth of public programming including exhibitions, lectures, reading groups, and book launches; a comfortable and efficient office environment for different scales and modes of work ranging from formal to casual; a framework that can grow to include the second floor and basement as the institution expands in the future; and a mobile street seat that will bring the Van Alen’s mission into the urban realm. To accommodate this range of scenarios within a limited square footage, we propose a Screen Play: a mechanism to order these spatial, curatorial, and temporal scenarios through a subtle interplay of surfaces that creates a complex and ambiguous presence in the city. The project proposes five strategies of screen play to enable and give shape to the broadest possible range of uses.View more information on the proposal at the Van Alen website. Of Possible Architectures Vincent Appel, Ethan Lay-Sleeper, Jaime Magaliff, Paul Miller, Heather Murtagh, Franklin Romero Jr., and Emily Ruopp, in collaboration with Jay Atherton. Project statement from the Van Alen:
The VAI has developed a legacy of architectural projects through competitions and commissions. The Van Alen Stairs, inspired by the TKTS Steps, capture this legacy most succinctly. The Stairs achieve an architecture of relational tectonics. We have identified relational tectonics as the dimension of architecture which intentionally provokes relationships between people, their behavior, and their environment...For the next iteration of the Van Alen Institute, we propose a translation of the Van Alen Stair into the Van Alen Table. The dimensions of the Table are precisely calibrated to the VAI's space. The Table allows for the full gradient of programs to easily expand and contract along, around, and in between its 70' length. This table presents those using it — whether reading, lounging, working, etc. — in a way that is both comfortable, natural, and uncanny. The experience is just off-center from typical expectations.View more information on the proposal at the Van Alen website. The public is invited to weigh in on their favorite designs through September 10, which will be evaluated by a jury later this month. The competition jury includes Stephen Cassell (Architecture Research Office), Winka Dubbeldam (Archi-tectonics), Mark Gardner (Jaklitsch/Gardner Architects), Mark Robbins (International Center of Photography), Ada Tolla (LOT-EK), Marc Tsurumaki (LTL Architects), David van der Leer (Van Alen Institute), and Marc Kushner (Hollwich Kushner). The winning design team will be announced in late September and construction is expected to begin by the end of the year.